This Popular Supplement May Be a Heartbreaker

Dave_white_suit_TMA new study shows one of the nation’s leading supplements may be a ‘heartbreaker’ if you take too much. While it’s a commonly held belief that calcium supplementation supports bone health, getting extra calcium through supplementation appears to be less effective than a balanced diet to make sure you’re getting enough calcium for your bones.  In fact, it may actually have a negative impact on heart health.
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A Deeper Look at the Calcium Supplement Study

In the study of 23,980 Germans, ages 35-64, those taking calcium supplements were almost twice as likely to suffer heart attacks as those taking no vitamin supplements of any kind. The EPIC-Heidelberg study followed participants for 11 years, during which time 354 suffered heart attacks.

Researchers reported that calcium from food, previously thought to protect against cardiovascular disease, showed little benefit. Though the study couldn’t prove that calcium pills contributed to heart-attack risk, the findings were enough for an accompanying editorial to conclude that getting calcium in large doses by supplementation “is not natural, in that it does not reproduce the same metabolic effects as calcium in food. The evidence is also becoming steadily stronger that it is not safe, nor is it particularly effective.” – Heart

True Health U’s Take

Calcium supplementation seems a little controversial lately. Consequently, if you are concerned with bone and heart health, I’d recommend real food as a priority (sesame seeds, almonds, tofu, yogurt, and green leafy vegetables) and supplementation only if needed or if preferred because of benefits personally experienced.

Based on a review of recent calcium studies including the one discussed here, it appears as though too much calcium in supplement form (over 1,200 mg per day) may not be a good idea for most people.

Don’t Criticize Calcium Supplements too Quickly…

At the same time, simply because one or two studies report high incidences of heart attacks with people taking calcium supplements doesn’t mean calcium supplements cause heart attacks.  Many factors contribute to heart attacks and it is difficult to determine the exact cause in a nutrition or supplement study.

Nonetheless, if you take calcium supplements, you may want to consider lowering the amount you take if you are at risk for heart disease, have a genetic predisposition, or are concerned about heart health in general.

Calcium Supplements May Have a Place for Some…

People experiencing osteopenia or osteoporosis may benefit from higher levels of calcium supplementation if their diet does not contain adequate calcium from real foods, but more than 800 mg per day from supplements might not be needed.

Should you choose to take a calcium supplement, visit our tested and true Calcium page to find out which calcium products passed independent testing.


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About Dave Barnas, M.S., CES, NASM-CPT

Dave is the true health guy. He is the founder and owner of True Health Unlimited, LLC, a personal health and fitness company in Tolland, CT & Wellness Writers, a subscription wellness newsletter service that incorporates live & virtual wellness workshops for companies across New England. Dave earned both a Bachelor's (1998) and Master's Degree (2000) in Nutritional Science from the University of Connecticut, and also holds certifications as a National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Trainer, National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist, Aerobics and Fitness Association of America Group Instructor, and Nutrition Specialist. He's also the lead author for four published works. Dave has over 20 years of combined experience in nutrition counseling, dietary supplement advising, personal training, corrective exercise training, health coaching and public speaking. In addition, he's spent over 25 years studying spirituality, meditation, and personal growth strategies. Dave's clients are all ages: youth, college championship level athletes, folks in their retired years, and everywhere in between. He's worked with three of the nation's leading physicians as a dietary supplement advisor and been a guest lecturer at Harvard University, Yale University, UConn, St. Joseph College and various church groups, health clubs, and high schools. In 2013, he was invited to Whole Foods Market to share his Real Food Therapy Guide. And in 2015, Dave's funny "Snowga" (yoga in the snow) video caught the attention of The National Weather Channel, who aired it to shake off cabin fever and bring laughter. In 2016, Dave & Hollie (his wife) founded Wellness Writers and deliver evidence-based Wellness E-newsletters to spread a message of health and happiness to various businesses throughout the US. Dave currently serves as a wellness coach and writer for several businesses, gyms and wellness facilities throughout the US.

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